USS Holland AS-32 Being Recycled

The USS Holland, the second Hunley class submarine tender, was removed from the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet on Thursday, July 10, 2013. She was transported to Mare Island where her hull will be cleaned, by Mare Island Ship Yard, prior to her final journey to Brownsville, Texas to be recycled.  

For me this is a big moment, as USS Holland was the first ship I ever visited in Suisun Bay back in 2010. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to wander her corridors a few more time over the years, exploring the memories and artifacts left behind by the men and women who served aboard her. 

Docked at Mare Island Ship Yard, taken during twilight

Just before the workers arrived to begin work on the hull 

The bow of USS Holland in the Mare Island Ship Yard dry dock

USS Holland was built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company in Mississippi and commissioned in 1963. Her mission was to service submarines, replenish food supply, fuel and weapons. She carried a machine shop and was capable of repairing any portion of a submarine. 

Her first major mission began in 1964 across the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain where she took over for U.S.S. Proteus, restocking missiles and supplies to the Polaris Submarines.

During her thirty three years in service, USS Holland was recognized ten times for battle efficiency. 

She was decommissioned in 1996, while in Guam, and placed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet shortly thereafter.  

Looking towards Mare Island, from Vallejo, at the dry dock 

The ship name has faded since being moored in the Fleet 

Read more about the USS Holland here.  

The End of the Sea Shadow Stealth Ship

The Sea Shadow is an experimental stealth ship built for the Navy in 1985 by the Lockheed Corporation for $50 million. She was built inside the Hughes Mining Barge which acted as a floating dry dock (and was eventually involved with Project Azorian, recovering a Soviet submarine from the ocean floor.)

Her purpose was to test naval vessel stealth technology to determine if radar-evading technology in aircraft was also possible in water. The experiment was a success, and used in secret for years until being exposed to the public until 1993, 
but the vessel was never reproduced. 

In 2006, the Sea Shadow and the Hughes Mining Barge were relocated to Suisun Bay and placed in the Mothball Fleet where they have been moored since. 

Yesterday, news broke that a Bay Area company purchased the Hughes Mining Barge at auction. They will preserve the barge and use it as a floating dry dock, however, the auction required the purchaser to destroy the Sea Shadow. 

USS Iowa Heads to Southern California

On Saturday, the USS Iowa (BB-61) will be towed from Richmond to her new home in Long Beach. She is the last Iowa Class battleship in existence to become a museum, which will thankfully preserve the ship that served in WWII, carried Roosevelt across the Atlantic in 1943 and suffered a turret exploring in 1989, killing 47 crew members. 

Much has changed since this image was taken of her in the Mothball Fleet in January 2010, but my feelings about her still remain the same. She is magnificent. 

The first time I set foot on her deck, I was immersed in the history, tragedy and beauty of this ship and though I am sad to see her leave the Bay Area, I am incredibly happy to see such a big part of our history preserved. 

Photo: "Chained"

Commercial steamship, SS Mormaccove of the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. She served in the commercial trade industry for almost 20 years (1961-1980) before being acquired by the Navy and converted for Naval use. At that time her name was changed to USNS Northern Light. She was used by the Navy for 5 years, then placed in the Mothball Fleet in RRF-30 status, meaning she could be ready for deployment in 30 days. In 2000, she was removed from Ready Reserve staus, handed over to MARAD and is now slated for dismantling.

Photo: "Pipe Dreams"

These valves in "shaft alley" of USNS Northern Light, a commercial breakbulk steamship, controlled water flow into the propeller shaft to keep it cool.

"Breakbulk ships" were characterized by large open hatches and fitted with boom-and-winch gear or deck cranes and primarily used in ports. USNS Northern Light, originally known as SS Mormacbay, served in the commercial trade industry from 1961 until 1980, when she was acquired by the Navy and eventually moved to Suisun Bay.

Photo: "Stand Down"

Battleship U.S.S. Iowa contains three 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 guns. The turrets were called "three-gun" (rather than "triple") because each gun could be angled and fired independently of the others. These guns were 66 feet long and fired projectiles weighing anywhere from 1,900 to 2,700lbs at a max speed of 2,690 feet per second for up to 24 miles.

This world class battleship currently sits in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet awaiting her fate. Currently there is a batte between Long Beach and Mare Island as to where the ship will be docked and turned into a museum. The Navy seems to have chosen Mare Island as the ship's home, but San Pedro seems to have more funding and monetary support.

U.S.S. Wichita (AOR-1)

The hull of U.S.S. Wichita was laid down in Quincy, Massachusetts by General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division in 1966. She was the first of the Wichita Class Replenishment ships to see service. (She was later joined by USS Milwaukee, USS Kansas City, USS Savannah, USS Wasbah, USS Kalamazoo and USS Roanoke.)

She was comissioned in July 1969, after a final outfitting at the Boston Naval Shipyard.

U.S.S. Wichita was equiped with twin Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems for anti-missile/anti-aircraft defence. Eventually, this was supplemented with single Sea Sparrow MK 29 missile launchers which protected against surface and air threats by utilizing the Rim-7 NATO SeaSparrow Missile. She also had the ability to support (2) CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters if necessary.

After a long trek through the Panama Canal she arrived on the West Coast in Long Beach, which became her temporary home port, where she remained for a few months before being deployed to support ships in the Vietnam War. During her time there, she earned four battle stars and an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, which was for replenishing 23 ships within one day, and years later was also awarded a "Battle Efficiency Award" (Battle E). 

Her last West Pacific tour of duty was in 1989, but she had some short deployments to British Columbia, Oregon and Mexico. 

She provided over 30,000,000 gallons of oil and gasoline and 10,000 tons of ammunition to over 240 ships throughout her 24 years of service until she was decomissioned in 1993. 

In 1998 she was transfered to Suisun Bay and became a member of the Reserve Fleet where she has sat ever since.


Inside the 'Treatment Room' where two operating tables and a dentist chair were installed for patient care.

Dentist chair inside the 'Treatment Room' on the 01 Level.

Inside the 1st deck crew mess.

Crew bunks on the 1st deck.

Checker tables on the 1st deck.